Danielle Waterman has starred in RBS 6 Nations triumphs and scored in the 2014 Rugby World Cup Final, but England’s Olympic hopeful insists being part of the HITZ programme is one of her most enjoyable challenges to date.
The 30-year-old full-back led a HITZ coaching session and Q&A at Northampton Saints for a group of youngsters all new to the game of rugby.
The award-winning HITZ programme tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today; unemployment, crime and disillusionment.
Delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon, HITZ uses rugby to increase confidence in young people and gives them the skills to get back into education or employment.
As well as playing some basic skill games and matches, the session with Waterman aimed to show how the skills and values of rugby can be transferred into everyday life situations.
With Waterman also answering questions about overcoming the challenges she has faced during her successful career, the England Sevens player, who is targeting the Rio Olympics, is hopeful it can inspire those in attendance to chase the opportunities rugby can offer.
“We spoke about the skill set rugby has given me and how many opportunities it has given me off the field too in terms of my career,” said Rugby World Cup winner Waterman.
“They’ve all come from different backgrounds and challenges, whether that be in education or at home, and this provides them with the opportunity to develop all the skills that rugby provides.
“That may be teamwork, discipline, or respect and it also gives them something to enjoy playing together. They have a common goal in terms of learning a new sport together.
“So it’s a huge opportunity for them and you can see them building their confidence just in the session that I did alone.
“What’s great is that not only are they learning a new sport but how to transfer that into being successful in all the other areas of their life; into education, training, or work-based placements.
“It’s amazing to hear about the success stories from HITZ. There is someone at Northampton now who graduated from the programme and is now involved with running their media. It is fantastic to see and I hope I can be a part of something like that.”
One of HITZ’s national partners, Barclays invited Waterman to visit the programme, and Northampton HITZ officer Matt Goode believes having a legend of the women’s game on hand really resonated with those taking part.
He said: “It was an amazing session and Danielle was awesome with the students. It was very interactive and she was a joy to be around.
“Different voices are always a good thing, and to have a Rugby World Cup winner here was a perfect way for these guys to learn about rugby.
“Through the games and drills we were doing, in every instance it is not only about rugby but life as well. The core values hit home with HITZ both on and off the pitch.
“Thanks to Barclays for giving us the opportunity with Danielle; without them she wouldn’t be here and they work really closely with us.”
To find out more about the HITZ programme, please click here